Portage schools ask to be 'carved out' of future TIF district

2013-06-25T16:53:00Z 2013-06-25T19:08:21Z Portage schools ask to be 'carved out' of future TIF districtJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Citing a loss of tax revenue, Portage Township Schools is formally asking it be carved out of any future city tax increment financing districts.

The School Board this week approved sending a letter to Portage Mayor James Snyder, who also chairs the city's Redevelopment Commission, asking the schools be exempt from all TIFs initiated after Sunday.

"Unfortunately, the recently enacted 'Property Tax Caps' have had a negative impact on our property tax-based funds," Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia writes in the letter. "The combination of a loss in revenue due to the 'Property Tax Caps' and to the TIF Development Areas pose a burden on the property tax-based funds of the Annual Budget of the Portage Township School Corporation."

Frataccia, who serves on the Porter County Redevelopment Commission, said in the letter that both the city and schools have improving economic development as a goal.

The idea to "carve out" the school district, said Frataccia, isn't new. It is allowed by state statute.

Frataccia first suggested the action last summer when he said he believed the school district has lost some $1 million in tax revenue since the city's TIF district was created in 1991.

When a TIF district is formed or expanded, the portion of real property taxes sent to the TIF districts are those above the base value of the property when the TIF district was created. While the base value may rise over time, the school district will receive less in tax dollars than it would have received if the TIF district hadn't been created.

Nothing ever came of that initial, informal request. The city's Redevelopment Commission, which manages the TIF district, has not formally discussed the idea at any of its meetings since the idea was first suggested by Frataccia.

School Board member Bill Fekete sits on the Redevelopment Commission as a nonvoting member.

Snyder had not seen Frataccia's letter, but said Tuesday he would consider the issue.

"Any time the schools have a request, it should be taken very seriously. We will take it under serious advisement," Snyder said.


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